Salmon is one of those things I often order in restaurants because it’s fairly fool-proof in terms of being Megh-friendly if they just sautee or grill it in butter instead of oil and leave off the sauce. And every once in a while, it’s quite exceptionally delicious.  Unfortunately, farm-raised salmon, which is what most of the restaurant world serves, is best to avoid, because it’s likely laden with toxins and does not possess the same omega-3 to omega-6 ratios that traditionally make salmon so healthy.

So anywho, since I’m ordering more shellfish and less salmon when we dine out, and J never eats salmon unless compelled to, we’re trying to eat more salmon at home.  We have a freezer full of wild Alaskan salmon, since we bought 30 lbs the last time our friendly local fisherwoman was in the area doing a co-op delivery in March, and we’ve been doing a lot of experimenting finding ways to cook it that are tasty.

Unfortunately, we have fallen flat in a lot of these attempts! Poaching it can be not half bad at times, if I can get it out of the pan while it’s still rare in the middle, but my forays into pan-frying and broiling have not gone well. They’ve been edible, but not particularly enjoyable.

Ideally, the best way to eat salmon would be raw, because none of all the exceptionally healthy goodies would get lost or disoriented or forced into altered states of being.  But again, our attempts at lox-ing this stuff have not met with great success; the texture wasn’t right for some of them (this we think will be fixed in the future by regularly pouring off any liquid that seeps out), and the last batch was way overly salty, discouraging us from trying again for quite a while. (Quick quiz: What do you do with way too overly salty gravlox? Mix it into unsalted fresh (like ricotta) soft cheese; mix with fresh salmon (or canned, but that usually has salt too) and make salmon patties out of it; throw it out … :( It was WAY too salty.)

Enter a brilliant epiphany — salmon ceviche!  Ceviche is basically raw fish, marinated usually in a citrus-based sauce for a few hours, thereby “cooking” it with acid instead of heat.  All those good healthy fats and nutrients remain completely intact, plus the whole thing is actually pretty tasty!  J says it’s the best way we’ve prepared the salmon so far, and he actually requested it for dinner this past weekend.  Here he is helping prepare it:

  • We thawed, dried with paper towels, and skinned the salmon (pictured above — and I saved the skin to fry in ghee later — I LOVE fried skin, especially salmon!), and then chopped it into 1/2 inch chunks.
  • Added one thinly sliced jalapeno, deseeded.
  • Added two finely chopped fresh tomatoes.
  • Squeezed in the juice of two lemons
  • Added a big handful of chopped cilantro and chives.
  • Poured in a small box of coconut cream.
  • Threw on a healthy amount of celtic sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

This all then sat and marinated for several hours in the fridge.  It probably could have done this on the counter just as well, I’m not sure if one would be better than the other, but we’ll have to experiment and see!

We served it with a bunch of fried pork rinds (more skin! — we find these work particularly well as substitutes for tortilla chips) and guacamole.  The leftovers were still yummy several days later!


This post is part of Traditional Tuesdays, Grain-Free Tuesdays, Real Food Wednesday, The Paleo Rodeo, and Fermentation Friday.

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12 Responses to Raw Salmon (Ceviche)

  1. INCREDIBLE. I adore salmon, and have just started cooking it at home myself. It used to be the kind of thing I would only order at restaurants, but nothing can beat home cooked fresh fish. Salmon is probably my favorite fish, but I’ve never tried like this. Thanks for the idea!

  2. ReneeAnn says:

    I live in a small town in the South, so the only wild caught salmon available to me is frozen purchased from a regular grocery store. We grill it often. I am a bit leery that this salmon is not safe to eat raw. Do you think rising and the marinade would take care of any harmful bacteria?

    • Megh says:

      I honestly don’t know … if it says it is “sushi-grade”, then it should be ok, but otherwise … if it’s been frozen for two weeks it should be ok in terms of parasites, but I don’t know in terms of bacteria. Adding some beneficial cultures to the marinade, like whey from straining yogurt or kefir, would probably help in keeping any proliferation of harmful bacteria down, because the good guys can often out-compete the bad guys. On the one hand, I would say, be careful feeding it to people who might be sensitive to having bacterial issues (the elderly, pregnant women, young kids, people who already have compromised immune systems). On the other hand, I think that as a culture we’re often way too overly concerned about bacteria to the point that we miss out on a lot of good stuff. And on that third hand that I wish I had half the time :) , I would say, if I were to eat frozen raw salmon from a producer I didn’t know personally (or Vital Choice, which is sushi-grade), I’d make sure to have plenty of activated charcoal on hand just in case. If there is bad bacteria or food poisoning caused from it, the charcoal should sop up the toxins if taken in sufficient quantities. (You can’t overdose on charcoal!) So there’s my two cents … Does it smell ok? That’s always a good indication.

      • ReneeAnn says:

        It does not say sushi grade. It does smell fine. I might have to try it out on hubby who is healthier, if he is willing to be a test subject! :) I like the kefir idea and can do that. And, thanks for the activated charcoal tip. I’ve never used it, but will order some.

        I rarely buy meat locally because it is all conventional factory farm meat. We eat mostly beef because we have been able to get good grassfed and finished beef at not too far a distance. Though I’m nearly out and trying very hard to get another cow! Over the coming months, I hope to locate some grassfed lamb and pastured/forested pork.

        I do wish I had that extra third hand, too! :D

  3. David says:

    Thanks for posting this up. I am really looking forward to trying something like this. Is it safe to prepare this with non-sushi-grade salmon? In other words, if I get Alaskan salmon or even lesser salmon and cook it this way, is this a safe method of preparation?

  4. Marc says:

    Just a heads up….there’s no such thing as “sushi grade”
    It just means that you can be fairly certain it has been carefully cleaned and no bones or skin. “sushi grade” is just a nice marketing ploy. If you are concerned about parasites…you can always freeze your fish for 24 hours, that kills them.

    Also lemon or lime juice…”cooks” the fish and it is now no longer raw. So that’s a good way to make sure if you are not into the raw thing.

    The smell test is the ultimate test for freshness. Fish should not stink, if it does smell “fishy”…don’t eat it raw.

    Hope that helps a little.
    Nice blog. Found you through Modern Paleo


    • Megh says:

      Thanks Marc — that definitely helps! I think I read somewhere on the Vital Choice website that they consider all their fish “sushi grade” so I just assumed it applied to salmon. Good point on the freezing!

  5. hellaD says:

    Fantastic, this looks so tasty and is such a good idea, I have made a recipe similar to this with scallops. Thanks so much for sharing with Grain-Free Tuesdays.

  6. [...] Raw Salmon by Yolks, Kefir, and Gristle [...]

  7. gina says:

    this sounds YUM!! at what stage of the gaps diet would this work?

    • Megh says:

      This should be ok on Stage 5 of Intro, after you’ve introduced more gentle veggies than jalapeno, of course! Also, you don’t have to use the coconut cream if you don’t want to, it’s still delicious. If you haven’t already successfully introduced coconut cream or milk (and some sources I’ve seen say it’s ok on Intro, some say it’s not), I wouldn’t start it with this recipe.

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